Creating a Clojure client library for InfluxDB

I’m working on a project where a time series database makes sense and the choice fell on InfluxDB. I found mnuessler/influxdb-clojure an aged Clojure wrapping an older version of the Java InfluxDB client. Being all excited about diving into this new area I thought it would be best to leverage the existing efforts put into making InfluxDB accessible in Clojure. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t comfortable with all the layers put between me and InfluxDB server.

First I dropped the existing Clojure library which hasn’t been updated for almost 3 years. It seemed unlikely that the project would miraculously be revived. Therefore I opted for just depending on the newest Java client (2.14) directly which included the following dependencies:

Retrieving org/influxdb/influxdb-java/2.14/influxdb-java-2.14.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/retrofit2/retrofit/2.4.0/retrofit-2.4.0.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/moshi/moshi/1.5.0/moshi-1.5.0.jar from central
Retrieving org/msgpack/msgpack-core/0.8.16/msgpack-core-0.8.16.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/retrofit2/converter-moshi/2.4.0/converter-moshi-2.4.0.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/okhttp3/okhttp/3.11.0/okhttp-3.11.0.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/okio/okio/1.14.0/okio-1.14.0.jar from central
Retrieving com/squareup/okhttp3/logging-interceptor/3.11.0/logging-interceptor-3.11.0.jar from central

But digging deeper I realized that the only thing the Java client was doing was sending request directly to the InfluxDB HTTP API. It just rubs me the wrong way having 8 extra dependencies (around 1 Mb worth of jar files), dealing with transforming back and forth between Java objects and Clojure data structures and having to browse 8k lines of Java code across 85 files, when I wanted know a bit more of what was under the hood. After all, since we are talking about doing 2-3 different HTTP requests to InfluxDB, it seemed overly complicated.

I got this nagging feeling that, for my use case, I would be better of just doing it myself. How hard can it be?…

Well to be honest it was a bit harder than I had expected. I started down a path where I would make a data structure that should represent a SELECT query. It quickly became complex due to the desire to deliver the same use cases as when using a string i.e. basic arithmetic. Also I couldn’t decide on the best way to deal with the fact that fields and tags can have the same name,in which case, you are obligated to specify exactly which type you are referring to. Not being convinced that representing the select query as a Clojure data structure was actually a good idea, I took a step back and started my implementation assuming that I already had the “select statement” string.

I also wanted the code to interact nicely with application state handled with Mount. For that I decided to have the InfluxDB connection be represented by a map:

{:url "http://localhost:8086"
 :username "root"
 :password "root"}

Where the :username and :password would be optional.

This is what I ended up with for supporting the /query HTTP endpoint:

(ns dk.emcken.influxdb-client
  (:require [cheshire.core :as json]
            [clj-http.client :as http-client]
            [clojure.string :as str]))

(defn prep-query-params
  "Convenience middleware to populate username and password from the connection if wanted."
  [{:keys [username password] :as conn} influx & additionals]
  (let [auth-params (when (and username password) {"u" username "p" password})]
    (apply merge (conj additionals influx auth-params))))

(def available-methods
  {::read http-client/get
   ::manage http-client/post})

(defn query
  "The query argument q can be either a string or a list/vector of strings. For
  valid influx-params see"
  ([conn method q]
   (query conn method q {}))
  ([conn method q influx-params]
   (let [request-fn (or (method available-methods)
                        (throw (ex-info "Unknown query method." {:method method})))]
      (str (:url conn) "/query")
      {:query-params (prep-query-params conn influx-params
                                        {"q" (if (string? q) q (str/join ";" q))})}))))

(defn unwrap
  "Takes a http response from the API endpoint and converts it to a Clojure data
  structure for convenience."
  (-> response
      (get "results")))

The above would allow for things like:

user >  (require '[dk.emcken.influxdb-client :as client :refer [unwrap query]])

user > (def conn {:url "http://localhost:8086"})

user > (unwrap (query conn ::client/read "SHOW DATABASES"))
[{"series" [{"values" [["_internal"]], "columns" ["name"], "name" "databases"}], "statement_id" 0}]

user > (unwrap (query conn ::client/manage ["CREATE DATABASE mydb1" "CREATE DATABASE mydb2"]))
[{"statement_id" 0} {"statement_id" 1}]

I’m pretty happy with my 40-ish lines of Clojure code to do queries, and I might even end up releasing it if my “write” implementation feels solid. The Java client does have one really cool thing going for it, and that is asynchronous writes. I assume this feature would be VERY handy with heavy data loads. But with a difference in lines of code on almost 8k and 84 files, I think it would possible to do something similarly awesome in Clojure.

What can I say… I love working with Clojure.

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Creating a Clojure client library for InfluxDB by Jacob Emcken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.